From the “global warming and ocean acidification will kill everything, forever” and the “nature always finds a way” department comes this inconvenient truth.
Back From The Dead: Giant Coral Reef That ‘Died’ In 2003 Teeming With Life Again
In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles dead.
On the floor of a remote island lagoon halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, the giant reef site had been devastated by unusually warm water. Its remains looked like a pile of drab dinner plates tossed into the sea. Research dives in 2009 and 2012 had shown little improvement in the coral colonies.
Then in 2015, a team of marine biologists was stunned and overjoyed to find the giant coral reef once again teeming with life. But the rebound came with a big question: Could the enormous and presumably still fragile coral survive what would be the hottest year on record? This month, the Massachusetts-based research team finished a new exploration of the reefs in the secluded Phoenix Islands, a tiny Pacific archipelago, and were thrilled by what they saw. When they splashed out of an inflatable dinghy to examine Coral Castles closely, they were greeted with a vista of bright greens and purples — unmistakable signs of life. –Karen Weintraub, The New York Times, 15 August 2016
In 1998, a heatwave, which raised ocean temperatures, had caused corals worldwide to go a deathly white – a process called bleaching – and die. The single bleaching event of 1998 killed nearly 16% of the world’s corals. When Dr Peter Mumby had visited Tivaru on the Rangiroa lagoon six months later, he’d found a vast majority of the region’s prolific Porites coral, normally the hardiest of coral species, had followed suit. Based on the known growing rates for the species, Mumby predicted it would take the Porites nearly 100 years to recover, not 15. “Our projections were completely wrong,” he says. “Sometimes it is really nice to be proven wrong as a scientist, and this was a perfect example of that.” –Jane Palmer, BBC, 6 September 2014